Friday, August 9, 2013

Tribune: Building Potemkin Villages

Shhhh! Don’t Disturb the Media’s Potemkin Villages.

Potemkin VillageAn impressive showy facade designed to mask undesirable facts.  The semantic etymology is, according to wordsmith,org, after Prince Grigory Potemkin, who erected cardboard villages to fool Empress Catherine II during her visit to Ukraine and Crimea in 1787. Earliest documented use: 1904.

Yesterday, August 8th, nearly 5000 participants and supporting crowds attended a very loud demonstration outside the Palmer House in Chicago to protest the existence and membership of the American Legislative Exchange Council. 

What was in the beginning a smaller group of union activists quickly spread by 11:45 a.m. into an almost a full-block line snaking around three sides of the famed hotel; people carrying picket signs, blowing whistles, and jeering against the Koch-brother think tank which writes and promotes legislation like the infamous Stand Your Ground laws in Florida and many other states. 

Shortly after noon, the Chicago police found it necessary to block off traffic on Monroe Street to accommodate the swelling crowds and provide for pedestrian traffic across the street.  The event was punctuated with several speakers from AFSCME, various labor unions, and the Reverend Jesse Jackson.

But you won’t read about it in your Tribune.  Or hear about it, except in a fleeting ten second reference on ABC televised news.  Shhhhhh! 

The mainstream media did not cover the event.  Just like other events they choose to avoid.

Last night, Bruce Dold, Tribune editorial board leader, appeared once again on WTTW’s Chicago Tonight to discuss the possible intrigues in the Madigan family and his hope that “pension reform” (a euphemism for the reneging of contractual promises to state workers in order to pay back what was stolen from them by the General Assembly over decades) would carry on.   An equally perturbed Natasha Korecki from the Sun Times joined him.  They lamented the possible Madigan family feud, the issues with Metra, whether Lisa Madigan will run for office, the field of possible Illinois governors-to-be.    

But the ALEC demonstration?   Shhhhhh!

How about the three-year $20 million no-bid contract for principal development provided Barbara Byrd-Bennet’s past consulting group for the CPS?  Shhhh!

And what about the egregious boast by business leader Ty Fahner of the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago that he and his cronies had effectively raised the rates of borrowing for the state of Illinois by forcing a downgrading of bond ratings?  This, by the way, will cost taxpayers an additional $130 million for one single bond issue. Shhhhhh!

You’ll have to take the word of the alternate news sources in Chicago, the ones uncontaminated by Sam Zell and the new business model. 

But I know one thing.  Thousands of regular people gathered on the street in front of the Palmer House, and not inside designing new laws to privatize education, prevent a living wage, undermine advances in environmental protections, and other legislative obscenities.

It happened, no matter what you don’t hear or can’t read.

And as the people on the street chanted:  Shhhhh-ame.  Shame.

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